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at length obliged to say something of her own health, alluded to it slightly, with that unaffected case, which shewed that she considered it only as a subject of very secondary interest. At length the symptoms of her disorder began to assume a decisive character; her pains increased, and her strength diminished.—At the visible approach of death, the, feebleness of her nature trembled. Of acute feelings, quickened by disease to an agonizing sensibility, she was unable to anticipate the pangs of dissolution without experiencing a silent terror, which she in vain struggled to conceal. Her friends be. held the conflict, and wept in secret. They had no power to sustain her weakness, nor any council to impart, which her own piety and experience had not rendered familiar to her. The struggle continued, and increased till the second day before her death-and then it ceased for ever! What passed within her bosom at that hour, what blessed consolation descended to her from above, He only knows who sees her soul; but, from that time, anxiety and terror fled away; even her bodily sufferings appeared to be suspended, and a smile of heavenly gladness animated her countenance. She could converse but little, for nature was nearly exhausted; yet she cheered with the accents of piety and affection those who were gathered round her. She remembered every one that was dear to her, and distributed little mementos of her love and gratitude. She listened with tranquil devotion to the sacred offices of the Church, and partook of the
memorials of that blessed Sacrifice to which alone she trusted for acceptance. She sunk softly into a gentle slumber, and slept, to awake no more! Her parents followed her to the grave, shed over the tears of mingled thankfulness and affliction, and marked with a simple stone the turf that lies lightly on her.
There shall the morn her earliest tears bestow;
The seat of religion is the heart. External actions, whether ceremonial or moral, though the natural expression and proper evidence of our real sentiments, are religious only because they are allied to dispositions and feelings that essentially are so. From them they flow; to them they are indebted for their true and distinctive character. So that, although there is not any difficulty in imagining a person deeply spiritual, though by sickness or otherwise he may be incapable of expressing his feelings visibly, it is a mere extravagance and absolute contradiction to speak of one whose life is religious, while his heart is alienated from God. This truth, though it appears obvious, is of such general application and importance, that it can hardly be too frequently repeated. It is this which an eminent writer of the present day doubtless intended to enforce, when she said, that “ Christianity is a religion of principles.” It is this which has induced the most valuable of our practical writers to enter deeply into the examination of the spiritual
* Mrs. H. More.
affections, of the secret and internal operations of religion in the heart.
Nor is the knowledge of these things involved in doubt or mystery. Christianity addresses indeed the most vital principles of our nature: her energy penetrates even to the deepest springs of human action : yet the affections which Religion claims, and the active exercise of which constitutes her perfection and triumph, are all natural affections. Hope and fear, joy and sorrow, love and hatred, are passions so intimately allied to our constitution, that they may be said to form a part of our exista ence; and even from our earliest years they have been so continually in exercise, that the dullest and most ignorant are as well acquainted with them as the profoundest inquirer into human nature. These however are the affections which, engaged in the service of Religion, become the elements of true holiness. Whatever therefore be the mystery implied ju those powerful images, in which man is described as regenerated and created anew by the agency of the Spirit of God, it is evident that they do not involve any practical difficulty. The change: is certainly radical and complete, perhaps not perfectly to be understood by us in its deepest and essential energy; but the effects and evidences of that change are of a nature so intelligible, that the weakest faculties are sufficient to apprehend them. All know what their affections are; and all are capable of discovering to what objects they are principally directed.
It is worthy of observation, (though it may appear digressive,) that although some of the affections upon which Religion operates, are, in their lively exercise, exceedingly distressing, they are not those to which Religion has any natural or permanent alliance. Fear and grief are doubtless painful; when powerfully excited, they are the sources of the deepest affliction ; but fear and grief, speaking correctly, constitute no part of Religion. She is acquainted with them only as grief for sin, and fear of condemnation. They are but as visitants in her kingdom. In heaven they have no place. Their residence is chiefly fixed in that land of mourning which separates the realms of light from the dominions of guilt and misery. Religion, in her perfect state, nay, even in that maturity which sometimes has been attained in this life, knows only affections and feelings which are essentially delightful. Love joy, hope, gratitude, are always sources of gratification. In their best and highest exercise they are the springs of happiness refined, exalted, and ineffable.
Among the religious affections, I know not how any can better deserve an attentive consideration than THANKFULNESS.
Yet it is most strange, if in a world so full of wonders any thing can justly be called strange, that a creature should ever need to be reminded of the duty of gratitude to his Creator. Our very instincts tell us, that to be unthankful even to an earthly benefactor is the mark of a low and unworthy spirit.